A-Levels show kids don't like computing

By Dawinderpal Sahota
18 Aug 2011 View Comments
Empty classroom with traditional tables and chairs and a blackboard

This year's A-level results, published today, show that there has been a decline in the number of students taking  A-level computing for the eighth consecutive year.

Just 4,002 pupils studied the A-level, representing just 0.5 per cent of the total number of students.

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ICT A-levels were slightly more popular, with 11,960 entries, representing 1.4 per cent of the total. However, this still lags far behind the number who studied English (10.4 per cent), maths (9.6 per cent) and biology (7.2 per cent).

In terms of their performance, 16.5 per cent of students who took computing achieved an A* or A, 65.8 per cent achieved a B, C or D, and five per cent failed the course.

In ICT, just 12.1 per cent achieved A* or A, 77.1 per cent achieved a B, C or D, and 3.7 per cent failed the course.

"The diminishing enthusiasm for computing as a school subject contrasts starkly with the ever-increasing importance of computers in all areas of life, including business, government, home and entertainment, and threatens the UK's ability to meet the workforce requirements of the knowledge economy, both now and in the future," said professor Steve Furber FRS, chair of the Royal Society.

Matthew Poyiadgi, European VP of CompTIA, added that he expects that nowhere near enough of these students will pursue a career in IT, despite the fact that the industry is crying out for talented young people.

"Part of the reason is a failure to show young people what IT has to offer. Too many 16–18 year olds think of IT as just sitting in a basement on a computer. We need to change this perception with the people who are currently making big career decisions," he said.

He added this all starts with education, and IT education in most secondary schools is not interesting or focused enough.

"IT should be about giving students an understanding of how technology works and the tools to use it in productive and creative ways. If we show students they can build and take apart computers, set up networks, and use IT in ways that is useful to them, I am confident we will see a lot more interest in the subject."

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